The City Sentinel Endorsement
This newspaper supported Gentner Drummond for Attorney General in the GOP primary and runoff in 2018. We then endorsed the Democratic nominee in the general election. For 2022, we endorse Gentner Drummond from the git-go.
The City Sentinel – independent, non-partisan and locally-owned – was a critic of the soon-departing attorney general throughout his time in the office. His early departure creates a moment of opportunity, an unusual chance to raise the bar in the office.
Continuing to believe in the importance of Oklahoma-based reflection and reporting on important issues, in recent years The City Sentinel has supported members of both political parties, and others, for key offices.
Mike Hunter’s performance during a tumultuous tenure – often weak and ineffectual — was curiously emblematic of a ruling elitism that over the last couple of decades has, step-by-step, taken the state in the wrong direction.
Over the past year, this grand “land we belong to” has even edged to the brink of non-existence in the traditional meaning of “statehood.” But to be crystal clear: Governor Kevin Stitt is absolutely not the problem, and seems likely to be part of the solution.
Out-of-his-league from Day One, Hunter sought to carry the interests of those who would seek benefit from the state’s crossroads positions on water, opiods, and tribal treaty rights.
Hunter worked, it seemed, to benefit many, but not always those whose benefits are enshrined in law and tradition.
His decision to resign (effective June 1) for personal reasons was a surprise, but his poor performance – even when on the right side of issues — was predictable.
Many in the state’s recent political elite — including Democratic leaders who until last decade governed the state – backed Hunter and opposed their own party’s 2018 nominee. However, that was less an example of traditional bipartisanship than a confluence of shared interests.
Capable and intelligent, Gentner Drummond is a Tulsa attorney. It seems appropriate to share this right now and without confusion: The newspaper’s leadership wants readers to know we support Drummond for attorney general.
Memorial Day is an apt moment to do so: Drummond served our country in the U.S. Air Force (winner of the Distinguished Flying Cross). He will fight for all of Oklahoma, not just political elites.
Hunter fumbled the state’s case in ‘Murphy v. Oklahoma,’ which ultimately undermined a stronger argument in ‘McGirt v. Oklahoma.’
He took a path separate from other states in controversial litigation against makers of pain-killers (Opioids) and refused to disclose to the public outside counsel working with the law firm he chose to assist on that litigation.
Even prior to Hunter’s tenure, the state had entered a water settlement which gave 25 percent of all excess surface water rights in Southeast Oklahoma to two tribes who may have owned 1-2 percent of those surface rights.
This settlement set up a perverse incentive to sell water to Texas and further compromise Oklahoma’s future even though Supreme Court precedent only allowed priority rights for the amount of arable acre feet needed per acre owned.
That settlement ignored the rights of upper-river smaller tribes in western Oklahoma whose water flows into the same Red River as the down-river wealthier tribes who benefited from the elite-oriented accord.
Hunter himself undermined Governor Kevin Stitt’s laudable efforts to forge revitalized ties with smaller Native American nations based in Oklahoma. Throughout his time in the office (to which he was first appointed by former Governor Mary Fallin), Hunter acted in diverse ways to undercut efforts to protect the state’s interests in discussions with the most wealthy tribal nations.
Gentner Drummond will work as an independent voice, an advocate and not an adversary.
He waged an effective campaign for the job in 2018, barely losing to the appointed incumbent. Drummond is professional, competent, effective in court and passionate about Oklahoma and the future. After his defeat, he graciously did his part for Republican unity, endorsing the appointed incumbent.
And now, it’s a new day, and a new opportunity.
A patriot, Drummond is proud of the state he calls home, but he wants to make it better. The governor will soon name an interim to the post, as is his prerogative.
Having supported Kevin Stitt in most of his gubernatorial initiatives and inclined to advocate his reelection in 2022, we support Gentner Drummond for Attorney General.